Meeting your idols can be a two-way street. On the one hand, the idea of meeting the person you idolized seems like a typical wish for anybody. But, you can be left with the bitter taste of disappointment when reality kicks in. In the NBA, you don’t have much of a choice, as an encounter or battle with some of the players you watched and emulated growing up is inevitable if you make it to the league.
Luckily for DeMar DeRozan, meeting his idols was everything he could have imagined and more. Nowadays, DeRozan is an experienced 32-year old shooting guard with a renowned career behind him, playing in four All-Star games and notching two All-NBA selections. But long before he was a star of the Raptors and Spurs, DeRozan was just another kid out of Los Angeles trying to become like the city’s hero, Kobe Bryant.
Being an athletic shooting guard who loves operating in the mid-range, DeRozan took a lot from Kobe’s game and implemented it into his. DeMar put in the work and perfected his craft, being one of the best mid-range operators in today’s NBA – making a name for himself in a way unusual for today’s three-point-oriented game.
DeMar talked with Shannon Sharpe on his “Club Shay Shay” podcast about how it felt meeting the guys he idolized through his childhood in Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Jordan was retired when DeRozan came into the NBA. However, Kobe was still at the peak of his power, as those battles are something DeMar will never forget, even though he got a chance to play versus Kobe before he got to the NBA.
“It was surreal. I mean, it’s only 2 people I’ve been around that had that type of aura. Where it was just kinda like, godly. It was him and Jordan. Them 2 people, I swear. Every time I walked on the court it was just a different type of feeling, you know. Like I don’t even know what it was, but I had the opportunity at 15 to work with Kobe. And every summer we used to play run games at LMU out here in LA. So I was 16, 17, 18 and was always like…it just didn’t feel real. So by the time I got to the league, I kinda knew what to expect, but it was definitely a different atmosphere.”DeMar DeRozan, Club Shay Shay
It’s crazy to think DeRozan was playing against Kobe in open runs at 15 years old. That experience definitely propelled him into being the player he is today and one of the most hyped-up high school prospects of that time. That would allow him to study Kobe’s game, demeanor, and the whole package from a close, as the similarities between the two are apparent.
To have the opportunity to play against your idol as a teenager must have been a surreal experience for DeMar, as he could possibly copy Kobe in one more thing and become a Laker this offseason, but that is a topic for another day.